UPDATE: The machete-wielding assailant who attacked the Louvre today has been identified as a 29-year-old male who possessed Egyptian identity papers. He had arrived in France in in January.
In Paris, this morning, a French soldier guarding was slightly wounded after shooting a man who attacked a security patrol with a machete shouting "Allahu Akbar." The assailant tried to gain entry into the shopping area at the Louvre museum but was shot five times and sustained serious injury to his abdomen. Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack was "terrorist in nature," But French security forces have yet to officially label this a terrorist incident. The world famous Louvre preserves precious works of art, including Mona Lisa and the Nike of Samothrace.
It was at approximately 10:00 a.m. local time in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping center at the stairs leading to an entrance of the museum when the attack took place. Four soldiers tried to subdue the assailant without lethal force when he rushed them with a machete in his hand, shouting “Allahu akbar!.” When they failed to stop him, shots were fired. The suspect is now being treated at a hospital. A photo now being circulated shows a man lying at the foot of the stairs at the Louvre, surrounded by soldiers.
Two rucksacks belonging to the suspect have been discovered. No explosives were found. A late report suggests that a second suspect is now in custody. The suspected attack is reportedly in his 30s but had no identifying documents.
Visitors to the Louvre in their hundreds were evacuated gradually after being first ushered to safe areas within the museum. The facility is now in lockdown.
The French cabinet has been in an emergency session for several hours and has given assurances that security throughout the country has been strengthened, even while the whole of France has been on high alert already for terrorist attacks.
Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion. A female employee of a Louvre restaurant told AFP News, "We saw death coming for us, with everything that's happening at the moment. We were very, very scared."
Thousands of troops are seen throughout Paris. Ever since the attacks of November 2015, France has seen a steadily growing security presence. Museums in Paris have seen a drop in the number of foreign visitors.
National security and Muslim immigration have become issues in the current presidential campaign. National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who has declared herself a fan of Donald Trump and stricter security measures, is currently favored the first round of balloting to serve as the next president of France. Centrist independent Emmanuel Macron, however, is leading the polls.
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